Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A short conversation indicative of the way the day has progressed....

'How are you?'
'I'm well....and you?'
'I'm well as long has it been?'
'How long HAS it been?  Well, I haven't seen you since...'
'I haven't seen you...'
'We haven't seen each other...'.
'Yes, we haven't seen each other......before.  Have we?'
'No.  We've never seen each other before.'
'Well.  What a small world!'

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Thoughts like skyrockets, soaring and exploding.

Random things:

I REALLY hate commercials where people eat; in particular, if I can HEAR people eating.  Seriously, which advertising agency thought that the sound of people chewing was good for sales?

I wish good luck for all the new series' that are debuting, or have debuted recently.  I won't watch them, of course, but I wish them good luck.

It took me several years to even watch THE BIG BANG THEORY and HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER.  And I began watching them after watching just about everything else on the menu on my flight to London.

Learning lines was easier when I was 30.

It was harder before, because I was Drunky McLushface a lot.

It's Fall.  Upper Michigan is beautiful at this time of year.

If you watched every episode of LAW AND ORDER back to back, you'd be sitting in front of your television for 19 days.  But I never get tired of Lenny Briscoe.

Justin Verlander won 24 games this year; just missing out on 25.  He is singularly responsible for the Tigers making the playoffs.  In the first round, I suggest letting him pitch three games out of five, and hoping for a ton of rain-outs.  Or, since it's October in Michigan, snow-outs.

I can't remember the last time the Tigers were in the playoffs, and both the Wolverines and the Lions were undefeated.  At the same time.  I'm not sure it's EVER happened.  Along with the Tsunami, the Hurricane, the Earthquake on the East Coast, and Steve Carell NOT winning an Emmy, it's a sure sign of the Apocalypse.

You really need to see the view from the sixth floor of the big round building in the Capital City of the Northern State.  You can see to Montana from here.

That means it's flat.

I can see Medora from here.  You should see Medora.  It's North Dakota's number one tourist attraction.  It's at the beginnings of the Badlands, which are beautiful; even IF a certain civil war general referred to the area as 'Hell with the fires put out.'  They have a great golf course, and several tourist-y things about the founding of the town and it's connection with Teddy Roosevelt.  And there's the Medora Musical.....

The Musical is a huge deal; they have an amphitheatre specifically built for this entertainment.  But the term 'musical' is a bit misleading.  It's got music, certainly....mostly country music.  Everything from the hits of last year to way back into Patsy Cline.  And there are horses, and soldiers and Teddy Roosevelt and flags and occasionally circus performers.....but not much on plot.  But good family entertainment.

We stayed at the big hotel....very nice.  Library of local history in the lobby.  Expensive restaurant attached.  It was a good weekend.  And I wound up with a Teddy Bear.

Seriously.  It's a Bear that looks like Teddy.

Okay....enough random.  I must be going.  It's early and I'm late.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The need for certainty trumps our need for revenge.

In 1997, I spent a brief but lovely time with a girl from Chicago.  Had I been braver, it might have lasted longer.  But that's not the story I want to tell.

She introduced me to the story of Alan Beaman, who was convicted in 1993 of a murder in Illinois.  He was a college student at the time, a theatre student, and he spent some of his time in a haze of suspect smoke, skipped some classes, and would occasionally be snarky to his fellows.  He said things in jest that could be taken seriously.  And he had a tumultuous relationship with the victim.

Yes, they had fingerprints in her apartment.  They were lovers.  And there were witnesses, included family, that saw him in Rockford, Illinois, about 140 miles away, at the time of the murder.

But he was a long haired stoner college student; it was a small town and a small town police force; and he was cocky and arrogant.  And he was found guilty and sentenced to 50 years in Joliet.

In 2009, the Supreme Court of Illinois perused the case, realized that there was no actual physical evidence, that the prosecution fudged a little on their evidence, and they threw out the case.  After 16 years, he was free.

The Innocence Project is a worthwhile endeavor.

I am not certain of the death penalty. I've often said that I would be comfortable applying such a permanent sentence when the suspect is caught, standing over the dead body, holding the smoking pistol and yelling, "I got you, I got you, you son of a bitch, and I'd kill you again with this gun in my hand if I had the chance!" But things aren't ever that simple.

Now, Troy Davis is going to be executed tonight in the State of Georgia for a crime he might not have committed.  You've probably heard the news stories, and you've perused the various online databases.  In this case, it's tough to know the truth.

Troy Davis was not an exemplary citizen when the crime was committed.
The victim was an off-duty police officer.
There was no physical evidence linking Davis to the crime.
And there were LOTS of witnesses; most have since recanted or changed their testimony.

So.  You'd think that the powers-that-be would like to take a second look, juuuuust to be sure.
But no.

The cynic in me states that He's a black man in Georgia convicted of killing a white cop.  He's got no chance.  Georgia isn't Alabama, certainly....but it's still Georgia.  Still the South.  And it's an election cycle; it always seems to be an election cycle.

But the law is created by man, for man to obey in the hopes that these laws create an environment where civility thrives.  The people, in the end, should have the final say.  If the people have doubts, the government MUST step in to slow the that justice can be served.

William Blackstone stated, "Better that ten guilty men escape than that one innocent suffer." 

Let us put aside our need for revenge just long enough to be certain. 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

In development.

Some stories stick with you, they surely do; even if you don't remember the source of the story.

Theatre stories stick with me the most; yes, I have a few of my own, but it's the stories the I've read over the course of my life, the ones that always seem to apply not only in the development of a character, but in the living of an artistic lifestyle.

Everybody's heard the apocryphal story about a very drunk Peter O'Toole (or sometimes, Richard Burton) who takes an old friend out to dinner before doing a play in the West End, getting wildly drunk, and winding up in a private box of the theatre.  The show begins, and at a certain point in the show, things come to a grinding halt.

"You'll love this part," says the drunken O'Toole (or Burton).  "This is where I come on."

I love that story.

But tonight, as I'm working a script in the wee hours of the night, another story comes to mind.

The famous actor was doing a choice role in a play in London back in early days of his career, and even though it seemed to be working, there was something not...quite....right.  He had tried everything to smooth over the bumps; he tried changing the pace, the volume...all the mechanical things an actor tries first.  Failing that, he went back into the text to try and find the solution, but nothing came.  So, despairing, he decided to broach the subject with another actor, who diligently saw a performance of the production and offered his critique.

"You're playing the hell out it," he said to start, "but let me ask you like him?"

The famous actor was slightly dumbfounded by the question.  But, when he came to think about it, he told the truth.  "No....I don't like him.  He's reprehensible.  I would cross the street to avoid meeting him."

The other actor smiled knowingly.  "That's what's not working.  You are standing in judgment of the character, rather than committing to thinking the way he thinks.  I sincerely doubt that he finds himself reprehensible.  He's got his justifiable reasons for doing what he does.  In order for you to work here, you have to like him."

I love that story.  I think it comes from ON ACTING, by Laurence Olivier.  There's also a story in there that states that he based his Richard II on a director named Jed Harris, who was also the inspiration (or so the legend goes) for the Big Bad Wolf.

I'm in the middle of such a dilemma right now, in my rehearsal process.  Intellectually, I understand the character, but truly I find some of his tactics hateful and cruel.  I've developed a bad habit of exiting the stage muttering, "What a DICK!" under my breath.  I really need to stop doing that.  I need to give him the life he wants, not the life I want for him. 

Villains never see themselves as such.

I must give in to the dark side.


Friday, September 16, 2011

The unbearable heaviness of nothing.

When I was in college, I lived with several guys in a dorm that will soon be a parking lot.  I've told that story; you can look it up if'n you don't believe me.

Go on.  I'll wait.

Got it?  Good, I'll go on....

We had this theory, first brought forth by a particular night of debauchery, that inside each of our heads was a Fraggle-like fellow, sitting at a command console and pulling levers to create behavior.  This Fraggle-like fellow was unchangeable; he was well when we were ill, sober when drunk, nice when nasty, etc.  And, we could hear this Fraggle's voice in our heads when we were well on our way to doing something....inappropriate.

Which was often.

At present, my Fraggle is screaming.  I think he's afraid that I'm going to bore him to death.  Which is a possibility.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

We can do the Innuendo, we can dance and sing...but when it's said and done, we haven't told you a thing....

I like the Eagles.  And I like Joe Walsh, because he makes me laugh.  And somewhere in my collection, I have a Glenn Frey solo album that doesn't include, "The Heat Is On."

But I own more Don Henley than all of those others, combined.

Who woulda thought that when this song came out in 1982, that it would be, in fact, prophetic?

Oh, and the girls in the first row of that concert are not old enough to remember the original release of the song.


Me feeling old.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

May the morning rise quietly.

It's quiet here now.

It won't stay that way of course; not today.  But right now, where the silence has lease, my thoughts spin through a familiar, yet unrecognizable dance.

Random, but structured.

There are songs, of course; there is always music in this gentle, vicious cabaret.

Here's my favorite.  I'll dedicate it to a friend of mine whom I've not seen in awhile.  With love and apologies.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

While you were sleeping.....

"Good morning, John....are you ready for a shit storm?"

These were the first words that came out of the phone at me on Tuesday morning, at approximately 0430.  And no, I was not ready for a shit storm.

We had already had ONE shit storm in the previous 24 hours.  Some royal jagoff with a voice modulator and a cell phone decided to see if he how fast he could evacuate an airport.

The answer to that question is, in fact, "lickety-split."  The next obvious answer is, in fact, inconvenient and dangerous and he should be strung up by his genitals.

I call him a jagoff because while he DID disguise his voice, he did NOT shut off his phone's ID.  Yup...the evil genius was tripped up by Caller ID.

So, right after calming the nerves of everybody in the state and testing the effectiveness of our own strategies, one phone call shut everything down for several hours, delayed several flights, and had several stranded passengers got it....the law enforcement officials who were trying to make sure they weren't going to blown to Hell....all they saw was a bunch of uniformed guys keeping them out of the airport.

Anyway.....six hours later, I get the phone call.

Do you remember when you used to fly, the airline would ask you questions about packing your bag, and has the bag been out of your possession, and has anybody asked you to carry anything for them?
These are questions you are supposed to answer in the negative. 

Until somebody gets off the plane and takes a laptop computer bag to the airline saying that 'some guy' asked them to 'take this bag with them' and 'deliver it'.

It's like the person who got off the plane with this bag recently fell off a F***ING TURNIP TRUCK.

And, this potentially dangerous situation is compounded by the airline ACCEPTING THE BAG, and locking it in a FILING CABINET for six hours before calling anybody.

"Yes, Ken....we see that there is a low pressure system heading for the Northern State, and it's bringing a 90% chance of evening shit storm..."

Three hours later, it was all settled down, with only minor inconvenience to the passengers, the organizational bomb guy, the local police department, and everybody I had to call at 0430 on a Tuesday morning.  It turned out to be nothing.  The story at 0430 became a completely different and benign by 0600.

This is what we do.

And if that doesn't make you feel better, I can tell you that over the weekend, 25 people were stopped at checkpoints around the country for having a loaded firearm in their carry-on bag.  Each one of them stated, with a straight face, apparently, that they had 'forgotten that the gun was in my bag.'

I much prefer theatre.

If I drop a line, nobody dies.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Scattered thoughts on a previous lifetime....

Many years ago, when I was young and just down from the trees, I decided to add to my already copious amount of education by attending graduate school in a small town in Central Illinois.  It was a nice place with theatre spaces and instructors and other students, so I fit in much like a square peg goes into a round hole.

It wasn't the institutions fault; it was mine.  I spent a year on the road with four other people, so essentially alone, I was fighting to a stalemate with the bottle of vodka, and I had just enough money to pay for two years of education, even with the scholarship.  I have always leaned to the loner side of the equation, and I was slightly older than your average Grad Student.

Oh, and by the way, I was as rusty as hell.  Doing three shows for a year in country clubs and military bases can take your edge off in no time at all.

I survived the experience, of course, and the education has served me well, but I didn't want to talk about that.

I wanted to talk about Becks.

Okay, I called her Becks.  Her name was Becky, or Rebecca, but one reminded me too much of Becky Thatcher and the other smacked too much of SunnyBrook Farm; although I preferred the latter to the former.  So, I just called her Becks.

It was my second year of the program; it was a time for Master's Theses, a loathsome Children's Theatre Tour, and a couple of really intricate theory-based classes.  I had a roommate in the summer, but he was booted before the Fall, the house we had chosen was too rich for my blood; I tried another house, but soon abandoned the idea, and finally wound up living in the Infamous Tree House, a second floor apartment that contained oodles of Monty Python, every Metal Band that ever existed, my roommate Steve who kept me sane, and everything but rubber swords to play with.....everything a good Tree House should have.

Yes, Vodka and Rum included.

I met Becks during a Fire Drill.  We were standing out in the quad as the siren wailed, and the Costume Shop Guru called me over to introduce me to her.....apparently, she thought we'd hit it off.

Strangely enough, we did.  We started in simple conversation, which of course probably included me making jokes and her rolling her eyes.  We went from that to making a pact that every time we saw each other in the hallway, we would kiss.  That went very well.  And then, conversations in stairwells and finally, a loose kind of dating.

She got me to wear a suit to a party.  Those that know me will understand the relevance of such a thing.  I wore a tie.

Here's where the demon rises up to erase my memory.  Some things I remember, some things I cannot trust to be true.  I can say this:  I was an idiot.

I missed signs.  I was selfish.  I was insecure.  I was burned out.

I was drunk.  Most of the time.  Functional, but whacked out.

And it faded.  We went our separate ways.  I went to Missouri.  Becks joined the circus.

Years passed.  We couldn't stop them.

Years later, we met again.  The first conversations were awkward, of course.  Part of the whole recovery process is taking responsibility, and that tripped me up for awhile.  We danced around topics.  We joked about the things that hurt.  But slowly, things smoothed out.

The girl I knew had become a woman who had seen the world; who had made her mark; who married and had two children; and, as she told me later, kept a piece of me with her.

But no photos; it was something she subtly cursed me for in later life.  I was camera shy in my drunken days.  Another regret.

One day in those years, we met at a reunion of a kind at the sight of our original relationship.  We had dinner with Steve (the Tree House roommate) and his wife Michelle, who saved my life one night by driving me to the emergency room when my head was in danger of exploding.  But that's another story.

We met in front of the theatre building, just steps from where that Fire Alarm years before had placed us.  We walked about the campus, seeing places we didn't even know existed back in the day; we walked around the town, looking at the places we stayed, and the conversations had there.  The buildings had different tenants, but everything looked the same.  And slowly, the years melted away, and it became what it was supposed to be, back then.  It became easy, and comfortable, and warm. 

Age brings wisdom, sometimes.

Between us, I was the only one that aged.  She was still the same girl, with the backward laugh and the smile that relaxed you.  Oh, and the cutting wit.  She had it back in the day, but she used it sparingly.  Not so much with the sparingly anymore....but I'm a big boy.

Friends a neighbors, I've said it before and I'll say it again.  Love is an energy, and as such, can be created but never ever destroyed.  It hangs around the universe, it permeates your idle thoughts, and if you're lucky....very VERY can relive it again, for just a minute or an hour or a day.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

My zeal to seek their understanding caused instead a poke in the eye.

One week from today, the organization for whom I work will pay tribute to "The Event."  They do this every year.

Some of the tributes are, to those with souls, perverse.  One year, the powers-that-be placed posters of the wreckage in New York City in every airport in the Northern State.  To my credit, I objected, strenuously.  I suggested, in no uncertain terms, that the average American does not want to be subjected to such images just before they board an aircraft.  But I was outvoted.  In fact, I was shouted down.  Literally.

It was at that point that I began to give up.  That slow trickling away of my 'give a shit' continues to this day.

In the last couple of years, I have played my variations on a theme:  If, as some members of Congress would like to proclaim, we are a Christian nation, they we should damned sure start acting like it.....but I don't want to do that this year....

I want to say something else.

One of the elders of the city said, "Speak to us of Good and Evil."
And he answered:
Of the good in you I can speak, but not of the evil.
For what is evil but good tortured by its own hunger and thirst?
Verily when good is hungry it seeks food even in dark caves, and when it thirsts, it drinks even of dead waters.
You are good when you are one with yourself.
Yet when you are not one with yourself you are not evil.
For a divided house is not a den of thieves; it is only a divided house.
And a ship without rudder may wander aimlessly among perilous isles yet sink not to the bottom.
You are good when you strive to give of yourself.
Yet you are not evil when you seek gain for yourself.
For when you strive for gain you are but a root that clings to the earth and sucks at her breast.
Surely the fruit cannot say to the root, "Be like me, ripe and full and ever giving of your abundance."
For to the fruit giving is a need, as receiving is a need to the root.
You are good when you are fully awake in your speech,
Yet you are not evil when you sleep while your tongue staggers without purpose.
And even stumbling speech may strengthen a weak tongue.
You are good when you walk to your goal firmly and with bold steps.
Yet you are not evil when you go thither limping.
Even those who limp go not backward.
But you who are strong and swift, see that you do not limp before the lame, deeming it kindness.
You are good in countless ways, and you are not evil when you are not good,
You are only loitering and sluggard.
Pity that the stags cannot teach swiftness to the turtles.
In your longing for your giant self lies your goodness: and that longing is in all of you.
But in some of you that longing is a torrent rushing with might to the sea, carrying the secrets of the hillsides and the songs of the forest.
And in others it is a flat stream that loses itself in angles and bends and lingers before it reaches the shore.
But let not him who longs much say to him who longs little, "Wherefore are you slow and halting?"
For the truly good ask not the naked, "Where is your garment?" nor the houseless, "What has befallen your house?"

So there.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

I window who mini off ewe rollease that lets of popple air inuble to pronince the onglish linguage?

I am attempting to break myself out of a funk by watching several episodes of A BIT OF FRY AND LAURIE.  It's working, up to a point.  But the sun is not shining and the birds are not singing and it's the traditional day the the Northern State reminds us all that Fall begins on September 1.

Cloudy, raining and a high of 64, thus far.

I auditioned for a play on Tuesday....I think it was Tuesday.  Is today Wednesday or Thursday?  Okay, if today is Thursday, then it was Tuesday that I auditioned for a play.

The plays produced by the College 'Round the Corner are open to community members, but of course, as an institution of higher learning, they give priority (and rightly so) to the students.  But, they need a Father figure, and since I'm at least as old as a Father....and I would like to work with the director....and I would like something to occupy my time for awhile....I thought I'd throw in.

Callbacks tonight.  Then, we'll see.

It's THE HEIRESS.  They made a movie.  Olivia de Haviland and Monty Clift.

Other than that, I'm quite under it.

But Fry and Laurie are helping.

Hugh Laurie is quite good at playing a git.